How popular is the baby name Charles in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Charles.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Charles


Posts that Mention the Name Charles

Popular Baby Names in NWT, 2019

According to Cabin Radio, the most popular* baby names in the Canadian territory of Northwest Territories in 2019 were Zoey and Elias/John/Joseph/Michael (4-way tie).

Here are Northwest Territories’ top girl names and top boy names of 2019:

Girl Names

  1. Zoey (4 girls)
  2. Emily, Hazel, Kinsley, Lily (3 girls each)
  3. Adeline, Alexandra, Amelia, Anastasia, Ashley, Aurora, Blair, Edie, Ella, Evelyn, Everly, Helena, Josie, Lexie, Lilah, Madeline, Madison, Miley, Myla, Nevaeh, Neve, Ruby, Ruth, Sadie, Serenity, Sofia, Sophie, Victoria, Willa (2 girls each)

Boy Names

  1. Elias, John, Joseph, Michael (3 boys each)
  2. Aiden, Benjamin, Bodhi, Carter, Charles, David, Dominic, Dylan, Edward, Elliott, Felix, Hudson, Iverson, Jack, Jeremiah, Jimmy, Jonah, Joshua, Lennox, Levi, Mackenzie, Maverick, Nate, Nathan, Nicholas, Noah, Riel, Theo, Timothy, Walker, Wesley (2 boys each)

In 2018, the top names in NWT were Carter, John, Olivia, and Peyton (with 4 babies each). In 2015, the top names were Abigail and Liam. And in 2020, the very first baby born in NWT was named Axel.

Sources: Zoey is the NWT’s most popular baby name of 2019, The NWT’s top baby names of 2018

*These rankings only cover NWT births through early December.

The Arrival of Arbadella

Amos ‘n’ Andy baby-naming contest ad, 1936

The similar names Arbadella and Arbedella both debuted in the SSA baby name data in 1936, and both saw peak usage the following year:

ArbadellaArbedella
19408 baby girlsunlisted
19397 baby girlsunlisted
193812 baby girls5 baby girls
193733 baby girls [peak]9 baby girls [peak]
19366 baby girls [debut]6 baby girls [debut]
1935unlistedunlisted

What was the influence?

The radio serial Amos & Andy — one of the very first situation comedies. The initial version of the show (1928-1943) aired for 15 minutes, five days per week, and was the most popular radio program in the nation in the late 1920’s and early 30’s. In fact, the show’s “popularity ensured the success of radio broadcasting as a form of mass entertainment.”

The show “was based on the model of minstrel shows, [and] thus based on racial stereotypes.” The main characters — African-American men named Amos Jones and Andy Brown — were played by white radio performers Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll.

In an episode that aired during October of 1936, Amos and his wife Ruby welcomed their first child, a baby girl. The baby wasn’t named right away — instead, the show’s sponsor, Pepsodent Tooth Paste, held a baby-naming contest.

The contest was advertised in newspapers nationwide. The ads noted that the judges would consider “originality, uniqueness, and suitability” when making their decision, and also offered some name-choosing prompts, such as:

  • “…you might think “Amanda” would be a suitable name because it contains so many of the letters of both “Amos” and “Andy.””
  • “…remember, too, the baby’s maternal grandmother is named Lillian.”

Thousands of prizes were offered, including a $5,000 grand prize. Here’s the full list (and what the prizes would be worth in today’s dollars):

  • 1st: $5,000 in baby bonds (equivalent to $92,183.93 in 2020)
  • 2nd: $1,000 in baby bonds ($18,436.79)
  • 3rd: $100 baby bond to each of 10 winners ($1,843.68)
  • 4th: $50 baby bond to each of 100 winners ($921.84)
  • 5th: $25 baby bond to each of 720 winners ($460.92)
  • 6th: $2 cash to each of 2000 winners ($36.87)

The contest closed in mid-November. The winning name, Arbadella — suggested by Mrs. Joseph L. Smith of Ohio — was announced in mid-December. (The second-place name, Ladicia Ann, was suggested by 12-year-old Indiana boy Urcel D. Miller.)

The late-in-the-year announcement of the winning name accounts for why the baby name Arbadella (and spelling variant Arbedella) debuted in the data in 1936, but saw even higher usage in 1937.

After welcoming Arbadella, Amos and Ruby went on to have two more children: Amos, Jr., and Amosandra. Neither of these fictional babies had a discernible impact on U.S. baby names, though.

What are your thoughts on the name Arbadella? Do you like it?

Sources/Tools:

P.S. Norita was also a contest-winning name of the 1930s…

P.P.S. In the early 1950s, The Amos ‘n Andy Show aired on television. This time around, the characters were played by African-American actors. Despite good ratings, the show was cancelled after two years due to pressure from the NAACP.

The Emergence of Chucky

guidling light, radio, baby name

No, I’m not talking about the evil doll. I’m talking about the baby names Chucky and Chuckie, which both emerged in the U.S. baby name data in the late 1940s:

YearChuckie usageChucky usage
195216 baby boys20 baby boys
195123 baby boys17 baby boys
19507 baby boys11 baby boys
19496 baby boys [debut]10 baby boys
1948(unlisted)5 baby boys
1947(unlisted)(unlisted)

Why?

Because, around this time, a baby/young boy named Chuckie was being featured on the popular radio soap opera The Guiding Light.

In 1948, the soap began to focus on the Bauer family, particularly Meta [MAY-tah] Bauer. That year Meta conceived a child out of wedlock with Ted White.

After she gave birth to a baby boy (either in late 1948 or early 1949) she gave him up for adoption. The adoptive parents chose to name him Charles after the pastor who’d helped arrange the adoption.

During 1949, but both Meta and Ted decided they wanted the baby back, so young Chuckie became the object of two separate custody lawsuits (one filed by Meta, the other by Ted). Chuckie was given back to Meta, so Ted decided then to marry her (early 1950) solely in order to have access to his son. But the marriage didn’t work, Meta left, and she initiated yet another custody battle for Chuckie.

By mid-1950 Chuckie was somehow old enough to be taking boxing lessons (Ted’s idea) and ended up with a severe head injury. He slipped into a coma for a few weeks, then died in September. (Days later, Meta shot and killed Ted.)

Chuckie’s tragic death likely accounts for the higher usage of Chuckie in 1951.

But both names see their highest usage in 1961 specifically:

YearChuckie usageChucky usage
196223 baby boys31 baby boys
196145 baby boys36 baby boys
196026 baby boys31 baby boys

This looks to be due to a different Chuckie entirely — a mischievous blonde boy named Chuckie who was the focus of a Leave It to Beaver episode called “Chuckie’s New Shoes” that aired in December of 1960.

Do you like the name Chuckie? Would you use it as a legal name, or do you prefer it as a nickname for Charles?

Source: About GL: Who’s Who in Springfield | Meta Bauer | Guiding Light

The Debut of Dewilla

The unusual baby name Dewilla debuted in the baby name data in 1935:

  • 1938: unlisted
  • 1937: 6 baby girls named Dewilla
  • 1936: unlisted
  • 1935: 8 baby girls named Dewilla [debut]
  • 1934: unlisted

What put it there initially?

A murder that began as a mystery.

On November 24, 1934, the bodies of three slain girls were discovered in the woods near Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The case was dubbed the “babes in the woods” mystery by the press.

After about a week, the police were able to identify the bodies as belonging to sisters Dewilla Noakes (age 10) and Cordelia Noakes (age 8), and their older half-sister Norma Sedgwick (age 12).

They were originally from Roseville, California, and had recently traveled east with their father, Elmo, and his teenage niece, Winifred — both of whom were later found shot to death over 100 miles away in Altoona. Contemporary sources guessed that Elmo and Winifred were on the run because they were in an illicit relationship.

That doesn’t explain how or why the three girls ended up dead in Pennsylvania, though. The assumption is that Elmo suffocated them, but his motive isn’t known for sure. (Perhaps the family was out of money and Elmo didn’t want the girls to starve.)

This sensationalized, Depression-era crime happened around the same time that Charles Lindbergh‘s baby boy was kidnapped (1932) and the boy’s murderer was captured and put on trial (1934 to 1936).

Do you like the name Dewilla? (How about the names Cordelia and Norma?)

Sources:

Image: New York Daily News 2 Dec. 1934: 92.

Babies Named for Famous Kings

king solomon image

A few months ago, I got an email from a reader who’d spotted an obituary for a man named “King David.” Even more intriguing, King David’s father’s name was “King Solomon.” The reader wondered what other famous kings had inspired similar first/middle name combinations.

Historical records reveal that, long before the name King became trendy in the 2000s, hundreds (perhaps thousands?) of people in America were given the first name “King.”

While most that I saw had middle names that didn’t create a special pairing (e.g., King Clyde, King Terry), a good number did have middle names that — whether intentionally or not — turned the pairing into the name of some historical, biblical, or legendary king.

Here are some of the pairings I spotted, plus links to a few examples:

King Alfred
King Arthur
King Asa
King Charles
King Edward
King Frederick
King George
King Henry
King Hezekiah
King James
King Josiah
King Louis
King Olaf
King Oscar
King Richard
King Saul

Several of these (Kingarthur, Kingcharles, Kingdavid, Kingjames, Kingjosiah, and Kingsolomon) also appear as compound names in the SSA data.

Do like the recent King-as-a-first-name trend? Why or why not?